“The Case for Public Housing During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
On a single day in 2019, up to 570,000 people faced homelessness. Homelessness sees no gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Survivors of domestic violence have been one of the fastest growing populations for homelessness in the country and in Champaign county in particular. It has risen approximately 260%. In addition, women, children, and entire families face homelessness due to domestic violence.
Champaign County has a dedicated IL-503 organization that aims to provide rental assistance, strategies to prevent homelessness, outreach and educational programs, support, and keeping track of the growing numbers associated with homelessness. The IL-503 of Champaign offers 239 continuous shelter and 60 seasonal housing. 80% of these services have been utilized including the year 2019. Many services have been used to the full extent leaving vulnerable populations without new needed services.
Populations Affected by Homelessness:
Domestic violence victims
People with severe mental illness
Chronically homeless people
Substance abuse victims
Although homelessness has decreased over the years by 40% nationally, the targeted population has grown to above 140%. 54% of Champaign county’s African American population face homelessness. Males are at the highest rate of homelessness in Champaign county.
What Champaign County Currently Offers:
6 permanent supportive housing
5 emergency shelters
9 transitional housing projects
1 rapid housing project
Price of Being Homeless
A study in New York City estimated that annual service costs $41,000 per person. There has been an unprecedented rise in emergency room visits during extreme weather, which resulted in over $17 million annually.
Overall, the need for expansion, grants, and support systems will be greatly needed in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as to which the homeless population is growing. Public housing would decrease the rates of COVID-19 infections and provide a safe place to go during the winter. Champaign County’s city council needs to extend public housing during the pandemic because the amount of infections are increasing. During the month of December, there could be up to 3,000 deaths per day.
Edited by Jasmine Mitchell